Sunday, September 12, 2010

Superior 50 report

On Saturday I got to experience two things I have never had to deal with. The first was one of the most beautiful trails I have ever seen: The Superior Hiking Trail, the second was not making a cut-off.

First the race story, my wife and I made our way up to Temperance River State Park. We were camping there versus staying in a nice warm inn as we (I) thought it would be fun. We love to camp and haven't had a chance as our daughters do not love to camp anymore which makes it a little more problematic to find the time. We got set-up fairly quickly, drove up to the Caribou Lodge to pick up my packet. I would like to say I was confident going into this race but I was not.

To show you where my thoughts were, here is an email from August 22nd that I never sent:

Larry, I am signed up for the 50 and working through a couple of issues - lack of training and a couple of nagging injuries and was wondering if I can drop down to the marathon? I haven't made up my mind to do so but just wanted to find out if it is an option.

The nagging injuries were my back was sore again and a foot issue. I had gotten the back healthy but between ramping up my mileage and stopping the exercises it had regressed. I decided to go for it despite the poor training and the injuries, why you may ask? Well the main reason is ....... heck, I don't know, I think I just didn't want to believe I couldn't pull it off. I normally can rally a bit and I only needed to maintain something like 16 to 17 minute miles and how hard could that be, right? And what if I had backed off to the marathon and had an easy time? That thought is very humorous now that I have seen the trail. Easy on that trail, is never going to happen, at least for me.

Anyway, it rained unbelievably hard during the night but we stayed mostly dry in the tent. I remember waking up at 2:30 AM, thinking about those poor folks running the 100 and I thought to myself that I sure hoped the rain would end soon. Up at 4, still raining but not as hard as earlier, got dressed, ate some yogurt, had a cup of coffee, made sure Karyn was awake, we left around 5 for the start line. Problem was, I had failed to pay attention to where it was and didn't really take into account darkness along with a fog/mist that greatly limited visibility. We ended up finding the start line but had a few tense moments. I packed up my final things and before I knew it we were off.

My plan was to run with Wayne for a while and then send him on his way. I figured I would be very close to the cut-offs and I knew he would be faster than I was and I wanted him to make it. About 3 or so miles into the race I rolled my right ankle pretty good. I kept going, figuring it would be ok, it mostly was but it did bother me more than I would have liked. I kept the pace slow but manageable, trying to take what the course was giving me. Wayne and I ran together for the first 7.7 miles but separated during the 2nd section, I had taken my jacket off at the first aid station and had some issues getting it into my pack and the pack back on. It took a mile or so but I eventually caught up to Wayne but soon ended up slowing down some and we separated but for the most part I kept things going ok and if I remember I was a minute or so behind him at the next aid station. At the 2nd aid station, I saw Karyn and was a bit cranky as I knew I was in trouble, my back was hurting, then ankle was tender and I was starting to get some blisters. I had also had left calf cramping up, all in all I was falling apart. I took the time to switch shoes, expecting that they would help get better traction in the mud and not aggravate the blisters. I have to admit that I was kind of soaking in the trail, I was loving it, even though it was wet, very very wet and very muddy in places. From that point on my day trickled downhill. I could give you more of my adventure as I watched the hills, roots, rocks and mud take their toll but I think my pictures will give you an idea (they are not very good quality as they were taken from my cell phone and I was a bit shaky at times but hopefully you will get an idea)

Yes this was part of the trail, I took this picture after I came down this section and looked back up at it. It was after the 2nd aid station, I think.

The mist/fog was gorgeous but I think the view would have been even more spectacular without it.

I can't remember which river this was, I took it from the bridge that crossed it.

Typical of the trail but at times the mud/water covered up rocks and roots. I torqued my ankle a few more times and every twist of my feet over rocks and roots caused some back pain. There was a hill that I went down where I seriously was concerned for my safety and sure enough I slipped on one of the rocks and wiped out but no major damage.
I didn't get a great picture that captured the mud but hopefully these will give you a feel.
There were sections were the water/mud was mid calf and I had my shoes get stuck but thankfully I didn't lose them completely.

I went down the path to this lake and just kind of stared at it for 2 or 3 minutes. There were so many sections of this course that I wish I could have just stopped and taken it in but I did want to make the cutoff so I kept moving. But my last 10 miles or so I knew I wasn't going to make the cutoff so I stopped often to try and soak it in.

So my day was cut short from what I expected but my body was failing so I wasn't too disappointed. I loved every minute on this trail and will look forward to returning for another race. I now have a feel for it and will know that my training will be need to step up 2 or 3 levels if I am ever going to succeed on this trail.

What an unbelievably great trail and my thanks to Larry and all of the volunteers for hosting a first class event. Congrats to Wayne, Rick, Jim and all of the other 50 and 100 mile finishers, I am in awe of you.


Scream'n Turtle said...

Same boat different water's.
I had asked Larry to bow out of 100m and enter 50m. Due to a recent Injury.
Only difference :at least you got to the starting line and made a honest attempt. Great job. Next year maybe???

Londell said...

Been there, felt that... Do not feel bad about it as it chews up spits people out often. You have the courage to start and that makes you a winner. But we both have to get that beast someday... I got past the 50 and as you know, the beast killed me in the 100. DO not give up, I did. This weekend gave me a little flicker in the pilot light... Wonder what that means for 2011?

Thompson said...

The race may not have gone according to plan, but the beauty of the trail seems to have really impressed you. I can see how you would rather drink in the views and let the race take its course, I was really impressed the first time I hiked along the SHT. Next time you will be better able to focus on running. Surph the Murph next month!

ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, tough, Tough, TOUGH!!!

In that first photo of the trail, I kept saying to myself what trail??? I have been teetering on doing an ultra (50K) for years but will have to be very picky about the course as I have very weak ankles and can sprain them on even a paved course. Will have to be either a paved ultra or one that is a very nice trail. Any suggestions?

Congrats on giving this one your best shot!!

wildknits said...

Mike, while great to see you at Oberg it was also heart-wrenching as I knew that meant a drop.

Anytime you and Karyn would like to head out on the trail for a hike let me know.

I think the lake you stopped at is Alfred's Pond. The bog around there is pretty spectacular and I always hope to see a moose (only place I have seen one on the trail is Boney's Meadow which is closer to the Cross River).

Get healed up and we will see you out on the trail!

Matthew Patten said...

Great pics. Sorry to hear it didn't work out.

Love the pic of the decent into the Crosby Manitou "Gorge".

I am pretty sure the river is the Cross River. Love that section.

Kel said...

Sorry to hear that things didn't work out as planned, but SHT is a darn tough trail even in the best of conditions. This year sounded brutal!

Surf the Murph?

CewTwo said...

You, sir, are amazing!

The 26.7 would have been my all, I'm sure. The email was a shared insight that I think we have all had. I was seriously considering running the Seattle Half. I didn't, though. I didn't need to. BUT I did consider it.

I love your attitude! There is always a next time. It was a hard lesson for me to learn!

Mike said...

Thanks all for the encouraging words.

The ankle is real sore and my conditioning is what it is so I plan to heal and reflect a bit. One thing I am 90% sure is that TCM is out. Surf the Murph is a given but the distance is not, meaning 25k or 50k or 50M????.


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